Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis




When most Americans hear the words “trans” or “transgender”, celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner, Chaz Bono, or Laverne Cox likely come to mind along with their highly public stories of medical and social transition. While these celebrity representations have served to increase visibility for the trans community throughout the United States over the past decade, trans representation remains limited in terms of intersectionality and a narrow focus on celebrity stories and themes of essentialization, dysphoria, and medical transition. At the same time, research on trans narratives also remains focused almost exclusively on trans women and men who experience dysphoria and undergo medical transition. This leaves the following questions: What are the consequences of such a narrow focus on only one kind of trans story within the media? How did the representations we know today develop in the first place? What are the experiences of trans people who do not fit into the dominant narrative like? What can we learn from these experiences, representations, and histories in terms of theory and activism?

To answer these questions, in this thesis I will present a qualitative textual analysis of interviews with seven trans people from various backgrounds on their gendered life experiences and compare them to trans celebrity narratives, historical narratives, and alternative narratives trans people have formed for themselves. While the stories collected and analyzed in this study are not generalizable to all trans people, as case studies they will enhance our knowledge of trans narratives, experiences, and identities.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Psychology


Women's and Gender Studies Program

First Advisor

Carolyn Hildebrandt, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vii, 163 pages)



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